What does fear do to us? It makes us worried, anxious, upset, sometimes depressed. But fear has varying levels. Have you ever noticed that what you can’t control causes higher levels of fear? Have you also noticed that past experiences and trauma dictate our fear reactions sometimes?
As October 1st approaches here in Las Vegas, our community is reminded of the tragic events of 2017 in which 58 people were killed, 422 wounded, and the ensuing panic brought the injury total up to 851 people. After that day, I saw people who had attended the Route 91 concert as well friends and family of victims. Many individuals I was seeing prior to those tragic events began to develop fears of their own despite not being there, but it hit so terribly close to home for Las Vegans that fear substantially increased in the community.
After these events, I focused training on crisis intervention services, trauma treatment, and anxiety. I wanted to gain control and understand the best practice of how to help people beyond the knowledge I already had. My fear turned into a focus that I could control. One shooting anywhere is too many, but as they occur more and more in our country, we may feel paralyzed with fear. I hear clients and personal friends saying that they don’t want to go to festivals or concerts anymore. I am originally from the Bay Area and always enjoyed the Gilroy Garlic festival as a child. The tragic shooting that killed two young children at that festival this summer brought fear, deep fear for my children. I thought, that could be them. Two of my three children are under the age of 3. How can I take them anywhere? What would I do?
I stopped and put my mindful (see another blog for mindfulness messages) body on and reflected after taking some time to myself. I sat my husband down and told him we need a plan if we are in a large public place with our children and a dangerous situation arises. First off if you have read some of my other blogs, you know I have two boys with severe food allergies and one recently diagnosed with epilepsy. We have lots of plans already. Our kids are not strangers to explicit instructions for many different scenarios. But the purpose and point of this blog is that we turn our fear into focus. I don’t use terminology stating they will die. I try to explain the situations and plan in way to evoke confidence when there is chaos. Here is a short break down of our plan and some terminology used to describe situations to my kids:
That last step leads me to share a bit about my comfort level and how I manage my fear. I feel that for big festivals I need my husband or another adult with me. Managing three kids and keeping my eyes on them is difficult enough. I only have two arms and two eyes, after all. When I take all three to the mall or even when I took them bowling once, before we get out of the car and venture off, I establish set rules proactively so I can best manage the situation.
Like the title of this post states, I turn my fear into focus. I’m not saying that I am not fearful for myself or children, but I am saying I will continue to live my life and not let fear paralyze me. We never know what tomorrow will bring but we must enjoy life and do the things we love, so please learn to turn your fear into focus, too.